Maybe photosynthesis can be improved.
That may sound like blasphemy but the easy solution to growing more food is teaching crop plants to concentrate carbon dioxide in their leaves. That could increase photosynthetic efficiency by 60 percent and yields by as much as 40 percent, according to a new study.
On a per capita electricity production basis, environmentalists are winning the war on energy
Electricity for all, which was once considered the goal of technological progress, is now treated like a giant step on the road to an ecological Apocalypse. As a result, we've increased regulation and decreased generation and the price per kilowatt-hour has gone up and supply per capita has gone down. We can thank a confluence of bad ideas, chiefly subsidies for inefficient and expensive green alternatives, penalties for coal and natural gas, and a war on nuclear science.
Wind farms are not very good. Yes, politicians embrace them because the unions advocating them donate heavily to campaigns, and environmentalists advocate them because they always advocate something new until it becomes popular (natural gas the 1980s, ethanol in the 1990s, then wind - anything but nuclear) but aside from a lot of dead endangered birds, wind hasn't helped much.
But concern that wind farms would cause more global warming are overblown. They don't help, and they are unsightly and ridiculously expensive, but they sure don't hurt, even though they were previously implicated in more heat and rainfall in Europe.
Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes.
Yet these ecological lemons might become energy lemonade.
It's not all bad, duckweed has been used to clean contaminated water and to produce pharmaceuticals, and now the genome of Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) has given this miniscule plant's potential as a biofuel source a big boost.
What would you do if you were on a borehole drilling expedition and tapped into 1,000 degree Celcius magma at slightly over a mile deep?
Most people would run but the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project
at Krafla in 2009 felt a sense of accomplishment. It was only the second known instance of drilling onto magma (the first was in Hawaii in 2007 and there were on a search for high-temperature geothermal resources.
A new biofuel has been created from yeast and ordinary table sugar. The yeast produces oils and fats, known as lipids, that can be used in place of petroleum-derived products.
It has something everyone can love. And hate. It's a biofuel, which environments love, but the yeast has been genetically optimized, which environments hate. And it uses table sugar, which will make Mark Bittman and New York Times readers recoil in diet fad horror.
When it was fashionable to do so, Germany claimed they were scuttling their nuclear power plants. Their energy companies, bolstered by billions of Euros in government subsidies, rushed to replace nuclear energy with solar and other alternative energy schemes.
But the projected increases in efficiencies never came to pass - companies that rely on subsidies are not in any rush to make technology better. And Germany has seen the US send its CO2 emissions from the energy sector drop back to early 1990s levels, and from dirty coal back to early 1980s levels, using natural gas - so now policymakers have decided they want to be a part of it.
A new estimate has said that tidal power generated by turbines placed in the Pentland Firth, between mainland Scotland and Orkney, could power about half of Scotland - they estimate 1.9 gigawatts could be available.
Every child learns about photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.
It sounds simple but duplicating it elegantly remains one of the biggest challenges for chemists. Currently, the most efficient methods that we have of making fuel, like hydrogen, from sunlight and water involve expensive metal catalysts like platinum.
America is back at mid-1990s levels of carbon dioxide emissions. Some of that is due to the ongoing recession, of course, but a large chunk is due to the switch from the dirty coal plants that ballooned after America stopped producing emissions-free nuclear energy to natural gas.
While energy overall is back at early 1990s levels of emissions, coal specifically is back at early 1980s levels of emissions.
And it's all been done without mitigation, rationing or increased cost, even during a political climate of hostility against traditional energy. It isn't just CO2; "combined cycle" natural gas power plants also release significantly less nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, finds a study
in Earth's Future.